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Etymology Word of the Day: Choose

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Choose (chooz) v. Old English ceosan “choose, seek out, select; decide, test, taste, try; accept, approve” (class II strong verb; past tense ceas, past participle coren), from Proto-Germanic *keus- (cf. Old Frisian kiasa, Old Saxon kiosan, Dutch kiezen, Old High German kiosan, German kiesen, Old Norse kjosa, Gothic kiusan “choose,” Gothic kausjan “to taste, test”), from PIE root *geus- “to taste, relish”.

As we arrive at the end of the first month in 2014, countless resolutions have been made and a staggering number have already been broken. As one year comes to an end and a new year commences its run, it’s a natural occurrence to take inventory of past doings and look eagerly toward fresh beginnings. Resolutions, personal promises, and zealous vows are a plenty as we strive to distinguish the new year, with its blank slate and promising opportunities, from all of our less-than-stellar achievements of bygone years. In search of a higher quality of life, greater discipline, and more saintly behavior we longingly hope that this year will be “the one.”

As much as it may seem like success (in all of its manifold meanings) is an elusive dream reserved only for those who are graced with special genes and the luck of the gods, the foundational ingredient to any success recipe is choice. It’s really that simple: Make a choice and see it through.

Our lives are the result of the maturation of our many choices—and their resulting rewards or consequences. Like a garden being a direct result of the type of seeds planted in it, the choices we make direct and shape our lives with near mathematical exactitude.

Sadly, the majority of people believe that success eludes them because of their environment, heredity, bad luck, or any host of reasons. The more likely answer, however, is that success remains afar off because people simply haven’t chosen to be successful. Have you determined what success looks like for your life? Have you then also determined what choices need to be made in order to achieve that success?

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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Etymology Word of the Day: Discipline

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Discipline (disuh-plin) n. – early 13c., from Latin disciplina “instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge,” from discipulus (see disciple). Old English discipul (fem. discipula), Biblical borrowing from Latin discipulus “pupil, student, follower.”

As a military veteran, discipline has deep meaning for me. From regimented physical training, to rigorous instruction and repetition, to the scrutiny of checks, double checks and more checks, discipline framed my world.

Quite often I hear from people who incorrectly associate discipline with rote, mechanical movement; the kind of repetitious, habit-forming work that can be performed by mindless drones. Military discipline, as with leadership discipline, stands in stark contrast with that kind of robotic responsiveness. Rather, discipline is about purposeful, deliberate, and intentional movement.

To be disciplined, as a leader, is to carefully consider matters, weigh them out, and then act accordingly. Discipline, in this regard, allows leaders to respond to situations, rather than react to them.

The disciplined leader is the consummate pupil, student, and learner, constantly assessing circumstances, people, and environment. Rigorous attention to that which is in the leader’s charge develops within them a confidence and strength to respond with deliberate decision-making and practiced purposefulness.

Etymology Word of the Day: Decide

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Decide (dih-sahyd) v. – late 14c., “to settle a dispute,” from Old French decider, from Latin decidere “to decide, determine,” literally “to cut off,” from de– “off” (see de-) + caedere “to cut” (see -cide).

“Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing which decision to take can sometimes be the most painful.” ― José N. Harris

“The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you never know where it might have led.” ― Lisa Wingate

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” ― Roy Disney

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” ― Yogi Berra

“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” ― Michelle Obama

“When faced with two equally tough choices, most people choose the third choice: to not choose.” ― Jarod Kintz

“Whatever you decide, don’t let it be because you don’t think you have a choice.” ― Hannah Harrington

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” ― Elbert Hubbard

Etymology Word of the Day: Change

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Change (cheynj) v. – early 13c., “to substitute one for another; to make (something) other than what it was” (transitive); from late 13c. as “to become different” (intransitive), from Old French changier “to change, alter; exchange, switch,” from Late Latin cambiare “to barter, exchange,” from Latin cambire “to exchange, barter,” of Celtic origin, from PIE root *kemb- “to bend, crook” (with a sense evolution perhaps from “to turn” to “to change,” to “to barter”);

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ―Leo Tolstoy

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ―Albert Einstein

Today’s etymology word of the day deserves two quotes (actually, I just couldn’t bring myself to choose one over the other).

Last week, I was given the wonderful opportunity to speak to the attendees of the 2013 KMWorld Conference and the topic I selected centered around facilitating change. Last week’s blog posts describe the four stages of change in detail, but I’ll focus this post on the origin of change.

There are so many cliché thoughts surrounding the topic of change, from it being the only constant in the universe, to becoming the change you wish to see, that it’s plausible any further commentary might be just a rehash of all of those other powerful sayings, which I will here try to avoid.

What I want share today is a truth so simple, its power can only be realized in practice: Change begins from within, never from without.

Change, or better yet the decision to change, belongs to each one of us and is perhaps the only thing over which we have true control. We cannot change for another we can only change for ourselves.

Change is made internally and manifested externally. Tired of being overweight? Change yourself internally first. Don’t like your dead-end job? The change begins with an internal decision.

As the two quotes above suggest, change you and your thinking first and you will begin to realize that change in the world around you.

Etymology Word of the Day: Accountability

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Accountability (uh-koun-tuhbil-i-tee) v.  – 1770, from accountable + ity.  Accountable “answerable,” literally “liable to be called to account,” c.1400 (mid-14c. in Anglo-French).

“It’s easy to dodge accountability, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging accountability.” ―Anonymous

My wife and I have a love-hate relationship: She loves to point out my faults and I hate to hear it!

Honestly, does anyone really love being told where they’re falling short? It can be a painful experience to be sure, but I have learned over the years, the pain—as much as I would like to deny it—does not come from my wife or any other external source. The pain actually comes from within; from my wrestling with the truth of who I really want to be and who I really am right now.

The word accountability often gets a bad rap because we use it almost exclusively in a negative connotation. Think about it, when was the last time you heard the word accountability? Was it in a positive light, with someone encouraging you to embrace it for the self-development tool that it is? Or was it from your boss citing how she was going to hold you accountable for this month’s lackluster performance on the Richardson Account?

Like the definition implies, the word accountable simply means giving an account or being answerable. This, in and of itself, is neither negative nor positive—whatever context we assign it will determine its usefulness or threat.

While it’s true that many a manager or boss has wielded accountability as a personal punishment instrument, recognizing accountability for the self-mastery opportunity it creates allows us to respond with honesty and purpose and opens the door for genuine dialogue and feedback; for learning and growth.

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